For two-and-a-half decades or so, the notion of continuous growth in all facets of my life has become a focal point; the desire to incrementally improve as a human being is an essential goal of mine. Legendary author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Stephen Covey names his seventh habit, “Sharpening the Saw.” It’s a wonderful image to describe a continuous improvement in the main aspects of our lives: our physical, social/emotional, mental, and spiritual capacities
Undoubtedly, to successfully execute a goal of continuous growth requires a great deal of discipline, self-awareness, effort, and analysis. To measure the success (or lack thereof) of fulfilling those aspirational goals, it is important to understand what the results should be if one is properly executing his/her thoughts and actions.
Far more often than I would like, I have found my results wanting, but a frame of reference and specific variables help me identify my shortcomings and what is needed to overcome those failings. In essence, I am engaged in performance management of myself, as well as many a trip to the confessional.
Within an organization or team framework, those same variables of continuous growth remain true, but with the benefit (or perhaps, the challenge) of ongoing communication and accountability with and for others. Within the team environment, the participant’s shortcomings cause him/her to fail to meet their aspirational goals and may cause the team to suffer, as well.
To increase the likelihood of individual and team success, it is imperative to establish a structure that governs:
- who is being measured,
- what is measured,
- when it is measured,
- why it is measured, and
- how it is measured.
A continuous loop of honest, open and direct feedback informs the team and its individuals how well they perform.
Make no mistake; this is difficult work, requiring substantive time to plan, develop, communicate, and manage! Like many of the human factors of conducting business, Performance Management is often ill-conceived, mismanaged, or not shared broadly and clearly. Additionally, the time necessary to conduct the work isn’t properly scheduled as a requirement of every team member’s work week, leading to it being ignored or executed haphazardly. It is critical professional growth, as well as from a physical, social/emotional, mental, and spiritual perspective, that we dedicate ourselves to this cause.
Not being learned in the flora world, I only recently became aware of the lotus flower. As a recovering accountant, whose higher education and professional experience began in the late 1980s, the only “lotus” with which I had familiarity was the electronic spreadsheet that was a previous competitor to Excel. However, as I read about the lifecycle of the lotus, I was struck by the imagery of growth and renewal that are depicted. Perhaps, as we develop our personal and organizational aspirations using Performance Management, we could draw a bit of inspiration from the life of the lotus, born out of the mud and muck, yet growing and sprouting beautifully for all to see. Let us keep on growing!